The WebRTC Slack-Rush

May 2, 2016

If the only thing you have is IP calling, then why are you investing in a Slack integration this late in the game?

Looking for gold in Slack by adding WebRTC calls to it?
Looking for gold in Slack by adding WebRTC calls to it?

Slack is a rising star. It has a small and growing set of users, some of which are happy to pay for the service. When it works, it is great. When it doesn’t, well… it then just feels like any other UC or enterprise communication service. I find myself using Slack more and more. Not necessarily because I need to, but rather because I am drawn to it by the teams I collaborate with. I like the experience.

In the last few months it seems that everyone is rushing to Slack, trying to build their own WebRTC integration with it. The latest casualty? LyteSpark.

Browsing Slack’s App Directory, I found the following WebRTC based services under the Communications category:

  • Google Hangouts
  • Skype
  • GoToMeeting free
  • Room
  • UberConference
  • Limnu
  • Blue Jeans
  • Screenleap
  • Yodel
  • Quickchat

There are others, not in the marketplace, and probably a few others in other categories or ones that I just missed.

The problem with many of them is that Slack is actively adding VoIP now – using WebRTC of course.

As I always stated, WebRTC downgrades real time communications from a service to a feature. And now, Slack is adding this feature themselves.

The problem now becomes that these WebRTC services are competing with the built-in feature of Slack – something that will be infinitely easier and simpler to use – especially on mobile, where it is just there. What would be the incentive then to use a Hangouts bot when I can just start the same functionality from Slack without any integration? This is doubly so for free accounts, which are limited to 10 integrations.

The only WebRTC services that can make sense in such a case, are those that have some distinct added value that isn’t available (or easily available through roadmap of Slack). It boils down to two capabilities:

  1. Seamless integration with PSTN calling. This is what OttSpott does. I think this is defensible simply because I don’t see Slack going after that market. They will be more inclined to focus on IP based solutions. Just a gut feeling – nothing more
  2. Solving a higher level problem than pure voice or video calling. Maybe a widget integration with the customer’s website for click-to-call capabilities, though it can be some other capabilities that focus on a smaller niche or vertical

This Slack-rush of WebRTC services seems a bit unchecked. Basking under the light of WebRTC doesn’t work anymore, so time to move to some other hype-rich territory, and what better place than Slack? Problem is, without a real business problem to solve (conducting a video call over the web isn’t a business problem), Slack won’t be the solution.

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  1. Hi Tsahi,

    You mention you “like the experience”…can you please explain what about the Slack experience is of value to you. Thank you.

    Agree with your “seamless integration with PSTN calling”. Have been using FireRTC for past couple months to place PSTN calls “in-browser” and I like the experience of opening up another browser tab and placing a PTSN voice call [landline or mobile] in North America. Simple and convenient.

    Also would find “click to call capability” a useful function. There are many times when I am visiting a web site that I would like to speak to someone about the product upon reviewing the product details or functions because I start to think about a product use case, feature or function and would like an answer to the questions in the moment.

    I think “click to call” may help “close sales or influence closing a sale” after speaking to someone.



    1. Ron,

      Thanks for stopping by here 🙂

      Slack is friendly. It tries to be nice on you from the moment you open it. It got all the relevant queues in place. It is easy to communicate over with a minimal amount of clicks and hassle. It works…

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